City won't pay in long-standing home repairs dispute

WICHITA — The city won't pay for repairs on a home in south Wichita that the homeowner says was badly damaged when a construction company drove bridge pillars into the ground nearly 10 years ago.

This morning, Mayor Carl Brewer said that homeowner Mark Gietzen's story doesn't match up with what the construction company, Dondlinger & Sons Construction Co., and city attorneys say.

"We regret that it did happen," Brewer said. But he said the city couldn't justify spending taxpayer money when the city's contract calls for any claims to be resolved between Dondlinger and homeowners who say their homes were damaged by ground vibrations.

This was the latest twist in the story.

A few months ago, Gietzen addressed the city council with former Mayor Bob Knight at his side. Knight, who was mayor when the bridge was built on South Mosley near East 55th Street South, said the city should pay for the damages.

The city recently sent Gietzen a letter denying any responsibility to pay for the damages.

Gietzen claimed the letter, which was signed by Brewer, contained false information about the company testing the pile drivers before using them.

"There's a big difference between talking about something and doing," Gietzen said.

Gietzen, who has been prominent in anti-abortion protests through the years, said council members were letting their political leanings and socioeconomic biases influence their decision to not pay for damages.

Several council members have been active in politics outside of city council matters through the years, but council elections are nonpartisan.

Gietzen said when the Tallgrass neighborhood complained about a blue roof on a city-operated water pump station, the city replaced it, but it won't so much as repair construction damages for someone in south Wichita.

Brewer, the only one to address Gietzen at the meeting, said council members don't allow politics to interfere with their decisions.

"These guys could care less about that," he said of the council.